The Occupy movement which has focused the eyes of the world on corporate greed and economic inequality is free speech in action. OccupyMN is part of that worldwide movement.
The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has started a PR campaign against OccupyMN. Attached is a defamatory press release sent out October 24th at 4:30 pm by the Sheriff’s office. It emphasized the cost of the police and detailed a list of incidents at the camp over the past two weeks.
1) Call the Hennepin County Commissioners, Mayor Rybak, and Minneapolis City Council members to reinforce the First Amendment rights of OccupyMN protesters to peaceably assemble. From Naomi Wolf: …the First Amendment means that it actually is not up to the mayor or the police of any municipality, or to the Parks Department, or to any local municipality to prohibit public assembly if the assembly is peaceful but disruptive in many ways. Peaceful, lawful protest — if it is effective — IS innately disruptive of “business as usual.” That is WHY it is effective.
2) Call the Hennepin County Commissioners, Mayor Rybak, and Minneapolis City Council members to tell them to let the protesters have tents for sleeping in the cold. Many other Occupy cities have tents, including Boston, Seattle, Philadelphia, and our nation’s capital, Washington, DC.
Chair of Hennepin County Commissioners is Mike Opat, 612-348-7881. Mark Stenglein, 348-7882; Gail Dorfman, 348-7883; Peter McLaughlin, 348-7884; Randy Johnson, 348-7885; Jan Callison, 348-7886; Jeff Johnson, 348-7887. General information: 612-348-3000.
Finally, as news unfolds and you hear false or specious claims via the media, please call that media to account by phone, email, comments on articles, etc.
It is true that Mayor Rybak joined us the first day and is supportive. And technically it is the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department that has jurisdiction over the People’s Plaza. But they have worked hand in hand with Minneapolis police officers. The People’s Plaza is in the heart of Minneapolis and the Mayor and City Council have a vested interest. When calling them, alert them to the duplicity of the Sheriff’s Department in attempting to make the protesters look violent:
Tonight the TV news reported on a box of bricks labeled “riot equipment” left at the Plaza without saying that the person who left it was a provocateur that the protesters had been watching. The protesters told the police who left the box and even pointed him out on the light rail platform. They watched in despair as the police briefly questioned him and then released him. In the attached picture you can see the box of bricks with the very childish and provocative note: “Riot Equipment: NEEDS: bricks, large but throwable stones, and gasoline.” For the media to imply that the box might have been left by a protester was a travesty.
Provocateurs are expected in this movement, but such biased media reporting needs to be exposed.
That they did not hold the man who placed the box and message, but then used the incident as PR to attempt to discredit the peaceful protesters, smacks of complicity. He was perhaps a plant in an attempt to make the protestors look violent, as they are not. Or perhaps the “law” officers just seized the incident and created PR to make the people of People’s Plaza look violent. Whatever the case, much of the mainstream media has sent a false message and needs to tell the whole truth of the incident from not only the police perspective, but from the protesters’ perspective.
Also, earlier in the day (2pm) county police had told the organizers that they had to remove tarps, which are essential to keeping materials dry. After the organizers contacted County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, within half an hour they were told it was a “miscommunication.”
The press release states cost as a reason to close down the People’s Plaza as well. Yet privately the police admit that they had way too many police on duty the first two weeks of the camp; they should own up to this publicly when stating the cost. The protesters stated from the beginning that they are nonviolent.
We also need to write up/publicize our experiences at the Plaza to let the public know how exciting it is. Every day I am amazed by events in the Plaza. Last night, they began showing documentaries on a screen using a laptop as projector. The protesters’ warmth, energy and creativity are as thrilling as the mission.
With additions by Sue Ann Martinson
The protesters rights are stated in the First Amendment. Here is more from Naomi Wolf:
Please, citizens of America — please, OWS — do not buy into this rhetorical framework: an absolute “right to be free of disruption” from First Amendment activity does not exist in a free republic. But the right to engage in peaceable disruption does exist.
Citizens who live or work near protest sites or marches have every right to be free of violence from protesters and they should never be subjected to destruction of property. This is why I am always saying to OWS and to anyone who wants to assemble: be PEACEFUL PEACEFUL PEACEFUL. Be respectful to police, do not yell at them; sing, don’t chant; be civil to pedestrians and shop owners; don’t escalate tensions; try to sit when there is tension rather than confront physically; be dignified and be nonviolent.
But the First Amendment means that it actually is not up to the mayor or the police of any municipality, or to the Parks Department, or to any local municipality to prohibit public assembly if the assembly is peaceful but disruptive in many ways. Peaceful, lawful protest — if it is effective — IS innately disruptive of “business as usual.” That is WHY it is effective.
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Read the press release from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office below.
HENNEPIN COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
News Release Media Contact: LisaKiava (612)919-5918
Bricks & rocks found at Hennepin County Government Center
October 24, 2011 (Minneapolis) – OccupyMN has been conducting a demonstration on the Hennepin County Government Plaza since October 7, 2011. The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office supports the First Amendment rights of residents on county property, while protecting the free use of government buildings by the public and employees. The Sheriff’s Office maintains public safety for everyone who uses theGovernment Center — including those who work, visit, and demonstrate on the property.
Since October 5, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has been meeting daily with organizers from OccupyMN. In each meeting, the rules have been explained. As always, conduct on county property that violates county policy,Minneapoliscity ordinance or state law is not allowed. Tents are prohibited due to the public safety risks posed by such structures.
From the start of the OccupyMN demonstration,October 7, 2011, through Sunday, October 23, 2011, the Sheriff’s Office personnel costs have been approximately $200,080 ($128,780 in overtime pay and $71,300 in regular pay).
Since the demonstration began on October 7, seven people have been issued trespass notices. When an individual has been issued a trespass notice, the individual is prohibited from returning to the Government Center for a year.
In addition to the trespass notices, the following is a list of incidents related to the demonstration fromOctober 7, 2011–October 24, 2011:
One male unresponsive and extremely intoxicated was transported to HCMC.
One male transported to HCMC for a diabetic reaction.
One male transported for a head injury to HCMC (unknown cause).
One suicidal male transported.
One person fatigued on the plaza and refused further medical.
One person down and fell from a wheelchair. HCMC on scene and handled the incident.
Tents had to be removed from the Plaza.
A woman was arrested for trespassing. Previously, she was given a trespass notice by Hennepin County Security and after defacing a building.
Seven protesters arrested by Minneapolis Police for impeding traffic at 6thSt/2nd Ave.The protesters set up three tents in the middle of the intersection.
Medical assistance requested for one man hearing voices on the plaza.
Port a Potty was intentionally lit on fire. Suspect unknown.
Indecent exposure incident: One female and two males ran around the plaza wearing underwear. Parties left the plaza before they could be stopped and identified.
A man was arrested on theGovernmentPlazafor theft and obstruction. The suspect is accused of stealing items from other demonstrators.
Another man was using alcohol on theGovernmentPlaza. He was found to have a warrant out ofStearnsCountyand he was arrested. He was also trespassed from the property.
Hennepin County Security found a box of bricks and rocks on the GovernmentCenterPlaza. A note was attached tothe items and it described the items as supplies for a riot. The Sheriff’s Office is investigating. This incident is a concern for the safety of all citizens at the Government Center, those who work at the Government Center, and law enforcement officers.